Friday, January 31, 2014

Offbeat: Early 2014

We're about to exit January 2014. This month we (privately) marked the one year anniversary of No Goddamn Dancing, which got me thinking about everything we've accomplished. That probably deserves it's own post...but I did recall a series of posts I started with the tag "Offbeat", and thought that right now is a perfect time to do another.

Seattle has an amazing arts scene, and many artists dabble across multiple media. It means we as an audience get to experience some pretty special and unique things! Here's a round-up of some of those things that are coming up in the next couple months.

EMP's Sound Off! 2014
Sound Off! is entering its 13th year as our region's best known Battle of the Bands. It's geared towards the all-ages scene; all participants are under the age of 21 and residents of the PNW. It's helped break several well-known local bands, including Kithkin, The Lonely Forest, Schoolyard Heroes, Brite Futures, and Tomten. We like that this event specifically gives attention to young artists, giving them the opportunity to win radio air play, recording time, gear, and of course to play the EMP's fabulous Sky Church (it supposedly has the best sound system in the Town!) Tickets are $12 GA, $8 with student ID. Here's the upcoming shows list:

Semifinals #1: Saturday, February 8
Dames, Laser Fox, Sophia Duccini, Tommy Cassidy

Semifinals #2: Saturday, February 15
Manatee Commune, Nabii Ko$mo, The Onlies, Thee Samedi

Semifinals #3: Saturday, February 22
Calico the Band, Fauna Shade, KSneak, Otieno Terry

Finals: Saturday, March 1

City Arts' Genre Bender
When: February 15 and 16
Where: Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center

$20 advance, $30 door
Much like Fremont Abbey's The Round series, Genre Bender melds multiple mediums in one promising show. Unlike The Round's approach, which is to display multiple mediums in separate but equal parts all in one night (music, poetry, painting), Genre Bender takes five sets of artists and asks them to produce a collaborative, multidisciplinary work. The pairs include a performer and a fashion designer; musicians with radically different approaches; a singer/songwriter meets a dancer/choreographer; a drummer and an electronic musician; and a choreographer and a filmmaker. I love pushing boundaries and this event is sure to expand your ideas about art!

Sync Music Video Festival
When: February 28, 7pm
Where: SIFF Cinema Uptown
$15; $10 for SIFF members
A music video festival presented by the amazing film-wonders at SIFF, Artist Home (the producers of Doe Bay Fest, Timber! Music Festival, etc.), and the Seattle Weekly. This event will feature works from four well-respected directors, a mix-tape showcasing other talented directors, and songs by great local bands like Tennis Pro and Cumulus. Proceeds go to fund the next film project of the night's "Best Director".

A few other notables that I have to mention:
Moisture Festival 2014 (comedy/variete/vaudeville) is scheduled for March 20 thru April 13 at Hale's Ales' Palladium, the Broadway Performance Hall, and a special April Fool's night at Teatro Zinzanni. Their volunteer orientation is 2/17, which I highly recommend doing (catch the show for free, meet the artists backstage? It's awesome!) We wrote about Moisture Festival last year -- you can read that post here.

Sasquatch! Festival Launch Party -- get free tickets from the Neptune this Saturday, February 1st for FREE entry to the launch party at the Neptune on Monday, February 3rd. Last year was the first one and it was a lot of fun, plus there was a surprise performer. Free concert, surprises, and getting to be among the first people to know the lineup for this year's festival? Neat!

Bumbershoot Launch Parties -- Bumbershoot got on the launch party bandwagon, too. This year they'll have TWO - one in April to announce their theatre/Words & Ideas/visual arts/spectacle programming; and one in May to announce their music lineup. Sure to be a good time, more info is yet to come.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Album Review: Chung Antique, 'Sweater Weather'

Photo by Victoria Holt

Like many of the sonically obsessed, I’m continuously on the hunt through a never-ending maze of Bandcamps, Soundclouds, and skuff racks to find new ways to soundtrack my daily life. There isn’t any quantitative way to measure success with such a compulsion, but, for me, nothing beats finding an artist whose work just sticks. Chung Antique's 2011 demo, 'Go Poetry!' had this effect on me almost immediately after I found it last year, so when I heard they were finally releasing a new record I knew that I needed to investigate.

'Go Poetry!' by Chung Antique. Self-released 2011

To back up a little, the group that self-released ‘Go Poetry!’ was still more or less a college band. Having formed at Evergreen State in Olympia, the Chung Antique of 2011 was honing their craft at local house shows--drawing inspiration from their peers, and finding their own voice.

Even still, the demo that resulted was remarkably well formed. In a three-member band there really isn’t any room for fodder, and every inch of ‘Go Poetry!’ showcased their talent for weaving complex, often syncopated melodies into a cohesive narrative. To say that it was a promising first effort is an understatement.

Following ‘Go Poetry!’ the band embarked on an ambitious west coast tour, and relocated from Olympia to Seattle. Playing only a handful of shows during 2012, the only indication that they were even working on new material came in the form of the stellar single “Baking Brad”, which surfaced on YouTube following a live performance at Hollow Earth Radio (also check out the new video for the track by Nik Nerburn). Then, last month “Baking Brad” and “Stop Making Synths” (get it?) appeared on Bandcamp in support of a new record, and soon after I got my first glimpse of the Chung Antique of 2014.

'Sweater Weather' by Chung Antique. Available now from 20 Sided Records

My expectations were pretty high, but ‘Sweater Weather’s’ strength is undeniable. It’s still Mike (bass), Charlie (guitar), and Whitney (drums), and they still play phenomenal, math-rock infused post-rock, but the band has matured considerably. The record, which features 5 new songs in addition to re-recorded versions of several demo songs, is the perfect capstone for 5 years of work.  

However, this is not an anthology; ‘Sweater Weather’ is just as much an evolution in approach as it is a celebration of the past. Comparing the album versions to their earlier recordings, the band has slowed the pace of the re-recorded tracks considerably, but their refinement extends to the songwriting on the new tracks as well. Whether utilizing negative space to emphasize the gorgeous guitar harmonics on “Baking Brad”; gentle, Appleseed Cast-eque ruminations on “Former Farmer”; or delicate synthetic accompaniment on the zenith of what is hands down their most beautiful song to date, “Bagel Blue Eyes”, ‘Sweater Weather’ finds Chung Antique opening up their range considerably. If I had any complaint about the first demo, it would be that the Go! Go! Go! that served them well with the college crowd occasionally limited their impact in the studio, but that is no longer the case. Chung Antique's self-proclaimed quest is to find "the perfect balance of math and melody" and this record finds them hitting the nail square on the head.

'Sweater Weather' is out today on SF's 20 Sided Records. Download, or grab your copy on doublemint vinyl here, and keep an eye on our Upcoming Shows Page for your next chance to see them live.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

*Updated 1/26* Upcoming Seattle Shows

Hey everyone. I know I say it every week, but the next 7 days in Seattle have more than enough to satisfy every taste. 

 Q. How many ska kids does it take to change a light bulb? A. Four. One to drop it, and three to PICK IT UP, PICK IT UP, PICK IT UP! Long running NY Ska outfit The Toasters will be coming to El Corazon on Tuesday night for those who still remember the genre. Other big name touring options: TX's White Denim are coming to neumos on the Friday, and Ernest Green's Washed Out project will be performing over at The Neptune the same evening along with fellow chill-wavers, LA's Kisses. 

For the local at heart: the Black Lodge is on fire this week--especially for fans of Seattle's Iron Lung Records. This evening check out Olympia's White Wards as they support Brooklyn straight-edgers Hound of Hate. Their debut EP, which was bumped back from November to the end of this month, is at the top of my list of anticipated local hardcore records. However, both the Iron Lung show on Friday (one of our local favorites for 2013); and the Heiress, Old Iron, Great Falls show over at the Josephine the following night look pretty good as well. 

If you prefer your tunes a little more dreamy, then consider either the Cumulus, Tomten show at Chop Suey; the Slow Bird, Piano Piano, NGHTBLND show at the Crocodile; or Portland dream poppers Appendixes with Tender Age and bardo:basho at Cairo Seattle. 

Ready to dance? Try MOTOR X, or Dial Up. Experimental electronica? USF with Red Alder and Children of Kids at Atlas Space. Just plain weird? Baniszewski & LeBlanc at Hollow Earth Radio. 

All this and more below. Have a great week!


26 Hounds of Hate, White Wards, and Wet at Black Lodge
26 Chapel, Weregoat, and Old Skin at Highline
28 Cabana, Goodbye Heart, and Peeping Tomboys at Chop Suey
28 The Toasters at El Corazon
29 Dent May, Jack Name (White Fence), and Acapulco Lips at Chop Suey
29 Dial Up: Rap Class and Philip Grass, DJAO, D’Nelski, and Dutty Wilderness at Q Nightclub
30 The Pharmacy, Detective Agency, and Zebra Hunt at Waid’s
31 White Denim at Neumos
31 Cumulus, Dresses, Tomten, and The Hoot Hoots at Chop Suey
31 Washed Out, Kingdom Crumbs, and Kisses at Neptune
31 The Spoils, The Cosmonauts, and more at Waid’s
31 MOTOR X: Airport, Apartment Fox, Patternmaster, and Raica at the Lo-Fi
31 Despise You, Iron Lung, Transient, Body Betrayal, and Endorphins Lost at Black Lodge
31 USF, Red Alder, and Children of Kids at Atlas Space

1 Slow Bird, Piano Piano, and NGHTBLND at the Crocodile
1 The Helm, Low Sky, and She at Black Lodge
1 Chastity Belt, Wishbeard, and Mega Bog at Columbia City Theater
1 The Jesus Rehab, Hounds of the WIld Hunt, and Tangerine at The Sunset
1 Baniszewski & LeBlanc, Crystal Beth, and Nancy Drew Pentagrams at Hollow Earth Radio
1 Helms Alee, Sandrider, Bali Girls, and Survival Knife at Neumos
1 Appendixes, Tender Age, and bardo:basho at Cairo Seattle
1 The Helm, Low Sky, and SHE at Black Lodge at Black Lodge
1 Old Iron, Great Falls, and Heiress at The Josephine
4 Pure Bathing Culture  and La Luz at Neumos
4 Reggie and the Full Effect, Dads, Pentimento, and Honorable Mention at Vera Project
4 Oneohtrix Point Never, The Sight Below, and Nordic Soul at The Crocodile
6 Red Martian, Dirty Sidewalks, Balms, and Vibragun at Lo-Fi
7 Duane Pitre, Total Life, Brain Fruit at Teatro De La Psychomachia--Cancelled
7 White Lies with Frankie Rose at Showbox at the Market
7 Mos Generator, Ancient Warlocks, Argonaut, and C.F.A. at Columbia City Theater
7 Tessitura, Richie Dagger's Crime, and Lobsana at World of Beer -- Capitol Hill
7 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds, Cheap Time, and Dream Salon at Sunset
7 Serial Hawk, Diesto, and Medula Pinata at Waids
8 Rainbow Wolves, Wind Burial, Levator, and Hick Chicks at Blue Moon
8 Can of Beans, Big Eyes, Acapulco Lips, and Killer Ghost at Victory Lounge
8 Feral Children, S, and Carletta Sue Kay at Chop Suey
8 Atomic Bride, Jupe Jupe, and Black Nite Crash at Sunset
9 Haunted Horses, Noise-A-Tron, and Vats at Vermillion--Free
9 ArtAche with Golden Gardens, DJ Explorateur and Veins at Chop Suey
10 Quilt at Barboza
11 Delorean at Barboza
13 Sashay, Pink-HOUSE, Don Peyote, and Serpent Preache at Black Lodge
14 TacocaT (album release), Slutever, and Pony Time at Chop Suey
14 XVIII Eyes, Fox and the Law, and Seacats at Sunset
15 Marissa Nadler at Fremont Abbey
15 The Presidents of the United States of America at Showbox at the Market
15 Masturbatory Dysfunction, Jodie, #TITS, Breathe Glass, and Wilson Shook at The Josephine
16 Band of Horses at Moore
16 Piano Piano, Chapel Supremesus, and Lazer Kitty at Rendezvous
18 Pixies at Paramount
19 R. Stevie Moore, Chastity Belt, and The Memories at Chop Suey
20 Jetman Jet Team, Blackstone Rangers, Soft Shadows, and Golden Gardens at LoFi
20 Gaytheist, Drunk Dad, and The Great Goddamn at Chop Suey
20 MTNs, Brooklyn’s Aa, Health Problems, and Ponyhomie at Waids
21 Gems, Industrial Revelation, and Real Don Music at LoFi
21 Real Don Music, GEMS, and Industrial Revelation at Lo-Fi
21 The English Beat at Showbox at the Market
21 Sun Kil Moon at Neptune
22 DJ Spooky at Barboza
22 Marriage + Cancer, Dreamsalon, and Bad Future at Josephine
23 Ringo Deathstarr, Purple, Kingdom of the Holy Son, and more at El Corazon
24 Xiu Xiu at Barboza
24 Not From Brooklyn, Moose Portrait, and Tiburona at Barboza
25 Com Truise at Chop Suey
25 TacocaT at Sonic Boom Records--Free
27 Universe People with Zebra Hunt and Special Guest at Sunset
28 Master Musicians of Bukkake and Lilac and Champagne at LoFi
28 Guitar Worship Service at Josephine

1 The Purrs, Spindrift, and Hypatia Lake at High Dive
1 Infest, Iron Lung, Gehenna, Warcry, and GAG at El Corazon
1 The Red Elvises at Tractor Tavern
1 Kinski, Bottomless Pit, and Posse at Sunset Tavern
1 Skinny Puppy with Baal at Showbox at the Market
1 Baniszewski & LeBlanc, Danse Perdue, and Amanda Sloan at Josephine
1 Kinski and Bottomless Pit at Sunset
5 The Soft Hills album release with Ephrata at Tractor Tavern
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with Chad Valley at Neumos
6 Real Estate at Neumos
6 J.C. Satan, King Dude, and Grave Babies at Chop Suey
7 Mastix, Ecstatic Cosmic Union, and New Weather at Josephine
15 Lesbian, Sandrider, and Lords of the North at Columbia City Theater
15 Atomic Bride, Gladiators Eat Fire, Ghost Town Riot, and Keaton Collective at Barboza
21 Blue Sabbath Black Cheer at Josephine
22 Princess, Argnoaut, Dogs of War, and Into the Storm at Josephine
28 The Black Lips with The Coathangers at Neumos
28 Vatican, Don Peyote, and Endorphins Lost at Josephine
29 King Dude, The Ballantynes, and Bad Futures at Rendezvous

5 Dum Dum Girls with Blouse at Neumos
16 Chromeo with TOKiMONSTA at Showbox at the Market
17 Godflesh with Special Guests at Neptune (Rescheduled from Oct)
23 Drive By Truckers with Shovels and Rope at Showbox SoDo

2 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Paramount

Monday, January 20, 2014

SWL #50: Roladex, "Nuke It Out"

One of the things that I’ve always loved about minimalist synth music is that is has a strange tendency of aging really well. You could argue that this is a reflection of its continued esteem in underground music, but I don’t think that explains it entirely. There is something about the austere sound of bands like Kraftwerk, or Solid Space, or John Foxx's solo work, that continues to perfectly echo the utilitarianism implied by the word “future”. Funny enough, here we are more than 30 years after the heyday of such music, in the throes of a future that is anything but austere, and the sounds still seem relevant.

Formed in Amarillo, TX as the brainchild of Tyler Jacobsen and Elyssa Dianne, the duo known as Roladex use an “arsenal of analog instruments” to construct their own version of such a future.  The project has released a handful of tracks over the course of the last year to growing acclaim, with their last mini-EP arriving just a couple of months ago on Iowa-based Night People, the fabled label of the Shawn Reed (Wet Hair, Raccoo-oo-oon). However, we’ve already caught wind of the follow-up. On February 13th, Medical Records, our favorite local “purveyors of minimal synth, cosmic disco, wave (cold/new), dream/gaze pop, and futuristic music” will be releasing Roladex’s 10 track debut full-length, ‘Anthems For The Micro-Age’.

In addition to containing the 7 tracks previously only available on the Beko, AMDISCS, and Night People releases (minus the “Pink Halloween” mixes which are still available here), ‘Anthems For The Micro-Age’ will also include 3 brand new tracks. The whole package is getting the proper "Medical" treatment including pressing on 180g, transparent, electric blue vinyl, and an LP insert with lyrics.

I feel like people far more qualified than myself could spend hours arguing about the nuances that make up Roladex’s sound; the good news is that none of that discussion is requisite to falling under the spell cast by ‘Anthems For The Micro-age’. Case-in-point is the record’s long-ish outro track, “Nuke It Out”. While Medical describes the record in general as “Kraftwerk playing Steven Merritt songs”, the track’s haunting melody is more reminiscent of 'Speak and Spell' era Depeche Mode, or the output of modern day cold-wave bands like Black Marble. Whatever the most appropriate comparison is, I have little doubt that you’ll have any trouble fitting this “apocalyptic disco track for the end of the world” into any one of your remaining winter nights.

Stream and preorder your copy of  ‘Anthems For The Micro-Age’ over at the Medical Records Bandcamp.